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Coronavirus Celebrations: How to Have a Happy Birthday During a Pandemic

There's no doubt that special occasions are few and far between during a global health crisis.

In the eight months that the U.S. has dealt with the ramifications of COVID-19, countless weddings, graduations, concerts, and get-togethers have been canceled indefinitely.

And even these events have gone on in a scaled-down and socially distanced manner, the risks of transmission and disappointment remain.

But, as they say, life goes on. Although the novel coronavirus has put a stop to a lot of things, it can't stop time.

There are still milestones to acknowledge — and birthdays to celebrate.

And while you may have assumed that you wouldn't have to worry about growing another year older in quarantine, the out-of-control virus is making it impossible (or very ill-advised, at the very least) for many of us to blow out the candles with friends and family by our side.

That said, that doesn't mean that your birthday celebration has to be canceled outright.

If you're willing to get a little bit creative, you can safely be surrounded (either virtually or at a distance) by people you love and acknowledge another trip around the sun — even when things seem a bit dark.

Here are just a few birthday celebration ideas that can make turning another year older during a pandemic a little less depressing.

Birthday Party Car Parade

There's nothing like a parade to mark an occasion, but it's been a long time since most of us have seen one. Since the start of the pandemic, we've seen car parades in communities all across the country. Drivers from separate households are told when and where to go and will slowly go past a location (usually, the celebrant's house) waving, beeping their horns, and expressing their good wishes. Many will even decorate their vehicles or wear festive party hats. This can be a great way to visually see the people you care about on your special day in person without putting anyone at risk.

Virtual Hangout or Game Night

In the era of Zoom meetings, you may not feel like hopping on a video call. But celebrating your birthday with a virtual get-together can be much more fun than you realize.

Whether every guest brings their own drink for an evening of casual conversation, you decide to host a teleconferenced game night, or you want to have an at-home karaoke competition, there are plenty of possibilities to explore using your web cam.

Make sure to double-check all of the technical elements beforehand to minimize birthday stress and give out the meeting room ID and code only to those on the list.

Then, instruct everyone to dress up in fancy attire or come in their most colorful pajamas to celebrate with you (through a screen).

Socially Distanced Picnic or Potluck

Meeting up with friends or family members in person for a birthday celebration is inherently riskier than going the virtual route.

However, if you keep things small and play it safe, this may be a viable option.

Keep in mind that even if you've recently spent money on home improvement projects (which homeowners spend $5 on per every $1 spent on home maintenance tasks), you shouldn't be hosting a birthday celebration indoors.

But if you have a separate outdoor space — or, better yet, if there's a public park with adequate room available — this might be a good location for a socially distanced picnic or potluck with just a few other people.

If you opt for this type of celebration, you should make sure that you can maintain at least 12 feet from others outside your immediate household (as data suggests that six feet of distance may not actually be enough) and that masks can be worn when food isn't being consumed.

Limit the guest list and the time you spend together, have everyone bring their own utensils and food, and resist the urge to get a birthday hug.

If you follow these rules, you can likely keep your risk relatively low.

However, you may have better peace of mind if every person attending receives a negative COVID test result first.

Doorstep Deliveries

At-home delivery and subscription services are nothing new, but they've certainly become more popular during the pandemic.

Even businesses that may not have offered coast-to-coast delivery or curbside pickup have now made it easier for you to enjoy their products at home.

With an estimated 36,613 florist businesses located nationwide and countless other gift services available, it's easy for friends and family to choose a hands-free present to arrive magically on your doorstep.

Whether they choose a classic bouquet of flowers (which is a popular choice, since 86% of people say receiving flowers makes them feel special), a pricey birthday cake, or a literal “celebration in a box,” this is a great way to let you know they're thinking of you even if they aren't able to see you in person.

These options are also great for you to keep in mind when one of your loved ones has something to celebrate, as they make it easy to repay the favor!

Birthdays can be difficult, even under ideal circumstances.

And in the midst of a pandemic, you may want nothing more than to curl up in a ball and forget all about it.

But with these tips, turning one year older doesn't have to be a bummer.

It can be a lot more fun than you might expect — and it may give you more of a chance to reflect on just how lucky you are.

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